I don’t know about you, but for my money, there is nothing hotter than a truly sexy nerd. Bring on the brains; for me, the brawn is totally optional. If you love heroes and heroines of the bookish and scholarly variety, here are five romance novels you do not wanna miss.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Oh, how I love this book — let me count the ways. Way 1: the fantastic narrator, a mathematically brilliant autistic woman named Stella who struggles with romantic relationships. Way 2: the brutally hot (Google Daniel Henney), kind, loyal, emotionally insecure sex worker love interest, Michael. Way 3: the extreme hotness right from the get go. Not only do these do have chemistry to spare, but holy hell can debut author Hoang write a sex scene or twelve. Ways 4 through a million: the way Stella and Michael find their way through their obstacles to get from a business relationship to a sweet and loving one in a narrative that’s funny, sexy, and free of judgment all around.
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
Not only are both the hero and heroine of this contemporary college-set romance science nerds, but it’s also an epic example of two of my all-time favorite tropes: enemies-to-lovers and…whatever you call the trope when people are totally falling for each other but don’t know who the other is IRL because it’s the glorious age of the internet! (See: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.) That’s right: Maria and Jay may despite each other when they interact in person, but they have no idea that online, he’s the commenter on her brilliant apocalypse-centric blog she’s been having long, perfect conversations with. Sound like a recipe for disaster? It is. Sound like a recipe for the romance of your dreams? Yep, it’s that too. (Note: This is the second book in a series, and you first meet Maria in Trade Me. You don’t have to read that one first by any means, but trust me when I say it’s so good, you’ll definitely want to.)
How Not to Fall and How Not to Let Go by Emily Foster
Shoutout to the ladies at the Ripped Bodice for shoving this one into my hands; I can’t remember the last time I devoured a book as quickly and eagerly as I did this duo about an undergrad named Annabelle whose plan to romp around with postdoc Charles doesn’t quite go as planned. But just because Charles rejects her offer of no-strings sex doesn’t mean he wants her out of his life. And what develops is a friendship full of both platonic and romantic chemistry…though they’ll have to wait until she graduates to explore the latter. And holy hell, when they do… I list both books here because that’s how many it takes to find their happy ending, but trust me when I say you’ll be happy to spend multiple books with this blazing-hot and brilliantly nerdy couple.
Make it Count by Megan Erickson
This was among the first traditionally published New Adult novels and it wormed its way into my heart immediately, with its dyslexic heroine struggling to find a tutor she clicks with until she tries smart, nerdy, sexy Alec…who happens to be her boyfriend’s best friend. It’s a dangerous matchup, but a girl’s gotta learn, right? And if Alec happens to treat her well and like her for exactly who she is, and she happens to find him kind, patient, and irresistible, even if he might need a little tutoring himself in the social department, they might just add up to a perfect match.
Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes
I had to save the nerdiest for last. Kaya is intensely into science, and where some books have a cute “experimenting with love” trope, this one goes hard. She’s a Molecular Genetics graduate student and research assistant, and she puts that expertise to good use when she decides to test her family’s grating hypotheses about her love life, especially since she’s got her cousin’s wedding coming up. She decides to date different test subjects, and observing it all is Nero, the owner of the café where she spends both her study time and her new research time. He’s the last guy who’d make sense for a boyfriend, but that’s what makes him the perfect control for her study…at least until her feelings for him grow a little out of control. None of it makes sense—not how well he gets along with her family or how she feels when she’s around him, especially since she has no experience. But if Kaya can’t get her heart to reconcile with her brain, this may be the very first test she bombs.